As a three-time Olympian and former captain of the USA Water Polo Men’s National Team, Wolf Wigo is well-versed in the Olympic motto of Citus, Altus, Fortus: Faster, Higher, Stronger.
Now entering his eighth year as the head coach of the UC Santa Barbara men’s water polo program, Wigo continues to instill these same principles in the Gauchos: faster in the pool, higher in the national rankings and stronger overall as UCSB takes on the best teams in the country.
In his seven seasons at the helm of the men’s program, Wigo has led the Gauchos to a 111-96 (.536) overall record and his players have earned 10 All-American distinctions and 14 All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation honors. Under Wigo’s tutelage Milos Golic, a 2010 UCSB graduate, became the first Gaucho to garner All-American First Team distinction in over 20 years and is just the fourth four-time All-American in UCSB Athletics history. Golic also set a new school record for career goals, after tallying 272, which surpassed Larry Mouchawar’s previous record (244), which was set in 1983.
Since taking over the program in 2005, Wigo has led UCSB to four winning seasons and has ended the last six seasons ranked in the top-10 nationally. In four of the last six years, the Gauchos have ended the year ranked sixth in the nation.
In 2006, just his second season with the program, Wigo led the Gauchos to a 21-14 overall record, marking the team’s first 20+ win season since 1990. In 2008, he led UCSB to a 17-11 overall record and a 4-4 mark in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The 11 losses marked the fewest by the program since 1985 and the four conference wins were the most since 1993.
In June of 2008, Wigo was named UCSB’s Director of Water Polo and assumed the reigns of the women’s water polo program in addition to his men’s coaching duties. During the 2009 women’s season, Wigo guided the Gauchos to a 17-12 record – an 11-win turnaround from the previous season and the program’s best record since 2005. UCSB took second at the inaugural Big West Conference Championships. He led the team to an 18-12 record in 2010 and a 16-13 mark in 2011, marking the first time in program history that the team has posted three-consecutive winning seasons. After compiling a three-year record of 51-37 (.580), coaching 10 All-Big West players and two All-Americans, Wigo handed the reigns of the women’s program over to Cathy Neushul in the summer of 2011.
Prior to coming to UCSB, Wigo spent two years as head coach and administrator of the Saddleback El Toro Water Polo Club in Orange County, Calif. Under his direction, the program grew from 20 members to over 160 in 10 different age groups ranging from five to 60 years old. Wigo oversaw all aspects of the organization including fundraising, scheduling and supervision of seven assistant coaches.
Wigo also served many of the same functions as the director of Ultimate Water Polo’s “Tools of Champions” clinics, a position he held since 1999. Wigo also conceived, produced and appeared in numerous water polo instructional videos.
In addition, Wigo gained four years of experience outside the pool as an equity option trader with Cole Rossler Capital Management, working on the floor of the Pacific Stock Exchange from 1997-2001.
While Wigo was working to further his coaching and business aspirations, he concurrently established himself as one of the world’s premiere water polo players as an 11-year member of Team USA. In 1993, Wigo joined the nation’s elite squad and in 1996 he became the first player hailing from east of the Rockies to make the US Olympic water polo team since 1956. Wigo competed in the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games.
After scoring a team-leading 16 goals during the 2000 games in Sydney, Wigo was named to the five-player All-World First Team by NBC Sports and USA Water Polo, making him a finalist for World Water Polo Player of the Year. He completed his tenure with the national squad in 2004 by serving as Team USA’s captain in Athens. Selected as USA Water Polo’s Male Athlete of the Year in 1999, 2000 and 2003, Wigo also helped the Americans win gold at the 1997 FINA World Championships.
Wigo’s collegiate career at Stanford University was nearly as distinguished. He earned All-American honors four-straight years and led the Cardinal to back-to-back NCAA titles in 1993 and 1994. As a senior captain, Wigo was named Stanford’s Outstanding Male Senior Athlete and NCAA Player of the Year. In 2007, Wigo was named to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation’s 15th Anniversary First Team.
After earning his B.A. in political science from Stanford in 1995, Wigo spent the next two seasons as a graduate assistant coach on “The Farm” under the legendary Dante Dettamanti. He returned to help the Cardinal as a full-time assistant in 2001 when Stanford captured another NCAA Championship.
In addition to his coaching duties at UC Santa Barbara, Wigo also coaches for the Santa Barbara Water Polo Foundation. Wigo is still active in USA Water Polo’s Premier League.
During the summer of 2008, Wigo served as NBC’s men’s and women’s water polo color commentator during the broadcasts of the Beijing Olympics. He has continued his affiliation with NBC and has contributed his commentary to its coverage of the 2009 FINA World Championships and the 2012 London Olympics.
The New York City native resides in Santa Barbara with his wife Barbara and daughters Athena and Devereaux and his son Channing.